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No More Monkeying Around

Intelligent science and Darwinist design. Plus: Country for our men. Shoot to kill in London. And much more.

8.1.05

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DEFENDING THE FAITH
Re: George Neumayr's The Monkey Wrench:

How eloquently George Neumayr tosses yet another "ism" onto the ash heap of history, there to rot amongst its deserving brethren, Communism, Environmentalism, and Therapism.
-- Robin Boult
Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Just read George Neumayr's The Monkey Wrench." So, evolution theory is "...unsustainable conjecture." This is simply not true, and, the rest of the article is nonsense. When did some of my fellow conservatives begin to dismiss science in so cavalier a manner? Biological science as practiced by real biologists accept the modern synthetic theory of evolution and often find it useful in their endeavors. It is said to be fundamental to understanding biology by some of these biologists. Ignoring the experts in the field to promote an ID or creationist agenda is disingenuous, at best.

As a conservative, I find this article embarrassing.
-- M. A. Sauka

Kudos to you for your excellent recent article on the Darwinian intolerance of any dissent from orthodoxy.

The grip of naturalism (materialism/determinism) in our era is epidemic and a major cause of so much that is wrong today. In this regard, Cardinal Christoph Schonborn's piece in the NY Times was simply superb, echoing what C.S. Lewis and others so well stated earlier.

So, thank you for your great work.
-- David J. Theroux
Founder and President
The Independent Institute
Oakland, California

I never thought I'd see the day that TAS lowered itself to Victim Ideology. But there it is in your article: Poor, simple, truth-seeking Intelligent Design proponents being systematically repressed by a vast "bright"-wing conspiracy of evil Darwinists. Maybe the government should step in and pass a law to protect the victims, do you think? The Protection for American Proponents of Intelligent Design Act has a nice ring to it. Then, as with all victims, the Intelligent Designers would be "entitled' to their opinions, in spite of the mere inconvenience of being wrong.

As I see it, most people, including many of the staff at TAS, seem to have a warped idea of how science works. In this view, you seem to think that scientists sit around and debate every passing fancy with genteel indulgence. Science is a blood sport, a bare-knuckle brawl in which people defend their ideas tooth and nail. If a new theory wants to break into the world of science, especially a new theory that attacks a well-proven theory that has been accepted by generations of scientists, then the new theory has to expect to face an uphill fight filled with derision and animosity.

But science is one of the few human activities where results will win out in the end. If a scientific theory is correct, it will prevail. Go look up the history of Galileo and the Catholic Church. Therefore, if Intelligent Design is correct, then you should take comfort in the fact that no amount of "conspiracy' will keep it down.

The problem with Intelligent Design is that it is not science. To be considered scientific, a theory must do three things: explain all facts relating to the theory, make predictions, and be subject to testing via experimentation.

Example: Darwin's theory of Natural Selection says that if two groups of animals of the same species are separated from one another over a period of generations, the groups will evolve in different ways and ultimately become separate species. That is science that considers the facts, makes a prediction and is subject to testing. Work with short-lived species, such as fruit flies, has proven this very kind of theorizing.

But Intelligent Design fails the test, especially in the matter of making predictions subject to testing. Saying that organisms are so complex that there must be a Creator is not science because the statement is not amenable to experimentation.

Mankind's ability to understand complexity is an open-ended process. There are more scientists alive today than in the whole history of the world combined, and progress is being made in understanding complex systems every day. Intelligent Designers seem to be throwing up their hands and saying "We can never understand this!" The whole idea reminds me of physicians of past ages who considered diseases to be punishments from God, right up until the time when Pasteur figured out germ theory.

As for your complaints about Intelligent Design getting equal time, I think you are flat out wrong. All ideas are not equally valid. To think along those lines is to embrace the mind-set of Victim Ideology. Will the TAS soon be running a series of articles praising the benefits of socialist reforms? Isn't it mean of you not to do that? Shouldn't you give the poor downtrodden socialist equal time in your publication? Yeah, right.

I have no doubt that there are people in the world who believe that the world is flat. But a sincere and passionate belief that the world is flat does not make it so, and even a fervent belief in the flatness does not obligate scientists to re-engage the flatlanders in a scientific debate.
-- Robert F. Casselberry

I have been following the Intelligent Design debate for quite some time and I'll admit that I have not seen the actual scientific data that supposedly supports it.

My understanding of it is this: We have found some contradictions to Darwin's theory and also some areas that Darwinism cannot explain. The complex nature of life on this planet is too perfect to have come about by chance. The statistics don't support it. Therefore it must be designed by a power greater than ourselves.

If that is an accurate portrayal, its NOT science. It is the basis for every religion the world has ever seen. "I don't know the answer, therefore God's hand must be involved."

We don't know everything. Science realizes and embraces that thought. Intelligent design is not worthy of teaching to impressionable young people.

If you want to discuss it in science journals and universities so be it. Don't confuse young people with conjecture and bad science.

Darwinism does not disprove God and is the best working model we have come up with so far. Intelligent Design makes a conclusion without supporting evidence.
-- Joseph R. Davey
Tucson, Arizona

Every time I read an article like George Neumayr's "The Monkey Wrench" which is in defense of Intelligent Design of the universe as opposed to Darwinism, I am always stopped short by the question of who created the Creator. I would love to have a sensible answer to that and not just the hackneyed "you have to take it on faith."
-- Bob Martin
Muskogee, Oklahoma

I agree that some on the left have adopted Darwinism as a religion and some of these folks behave badly.

But the notion that there is another theory to explain the findings in geology over the last 100 to 200 years is nonsense. A similar statement may be made for other natural science disciplines. There is simply no other theory that fits with and explains the quantitative measurements of the ages of rocks and fossils. Rocks and fossils have been collected by many individuals over many years and analyzed with various techniques. All evidence collected to date indicates the Earth is several billion years old. Life started on Earth about 1 billion years ago. Life has evolved through geologic time changing and adopting to the environment.

Short of some new unifying theory that better explains the geologic evidence, evolution cannot be denied. Having said that, I believe there is room for teaching Creationism in schools. There should be a clear separation and discussion; however, between fact-based and faith-based notions of the world.
-- Doug Santo
Pasadena, California

Entropy is the rule of nature. Left to themselves, systems run down. High-energy states give way to low-energy states. Organized systems become increasingly disorganized. Except, it seems, in biology. One of the things that have always puzzled me about the theory of evolution is its implicit claim that the biological river runs uphill.

It is not difficult to believe that dogs are descended from wolves. As much as we love them, it must be said that dogs have smaller brains, smaller teeth, and less aggressive natures than wolves. In short, dogs are less capable than wolves; they are watered down wolves. Perhaps I misunderstand the concept, but it seems to me that evolutionary theory would argue that the wolf could be the product of the dog; certainly, this is the analogous claim for primates. I wonder by exactly what mechanism an organism could proceed from a state of lesser organization to a higher one without an exogenous agent. Or, if there is an exogenous agent, what it could be? Can water come to a boil without the introduction of energy? Is that wrong question? And if so, why?

I do not exclude the possibility that evidence may yet be adduced to show that, indeed, species of greater organization have come from ones of lesser organization. What annoys me is the habit of both sides in this debate to make it a matter of orthodoxy. It is, after all, not the Law of Evolution but only the Theory of Evolution. And for good reason. Only fools violate the Law of Gravity because the consequences of its violation are repeatedly and publicly demonstrated. No such proof exists for the theory of evolution. The theory may well be the best explanation to fit the phenomena before us, but it cannot be said to be proven or even without obvious difficulties. Being the best explanation of a set of facts means only that the theory is a useful tool until a better explanation comes along or until the theory itself is publicly and repeatedly proven correct. To express skepticism about the theory does not make one a creationist or an adherent to design theory or any of the other theories to explain what we know of the fossil record. It simply means that the most widely accepted explanation is not wholly satisfactory.

From the beginning, much of this debate has never really been about finding a scientific explanation for the fossil record. Many sincere people from the time of Darwin to our own resist an honest inquiry into the evidence because they perceive a threat to strongly held beliefs. The perverse thing is that their opponents, who imagine themselves defenders of rational inquiry, have adopted a similar tack as well, making a civil religion of a scientific hypothesis. Both have adopted the tactic of Lenin in answering his critic Kautski:

Why should we bother to reply to Kautski? He would reply to us, and we would have to reply to his reply. There's no end to that. It will be quite enough for us to announce that Kautski is a traitor to the working class, and everyone will understand everything.

Better to denounce all skeptics of the establishment view of evolution as "creationists" or narrow-minded religious fanatics; better to attack defenders of evolutionary theory as godless. Everyone will understand everything.
-- William L. Roughton, Jr.
Fairfax Station, Virginia

George Neumayr's article "The Monkey Wrench" is yet more bunk from the anti-evolution crowd.

The article is such a hodge-podge of biased opinion and misleading claims, it's hard to know where to start with any criticism.

So I'll just stick to one topic: Neumayr's claim that evolutionary biologists (what is a "Darwinists?") are somehow trying to suppress free inquiry.

What utter nonsense. It's a blatant lie, and I suspect Mr. Neumayr knows that it is a lie.

The proponents of ID (IDists?) are free to do all the inquiry they want. And if they ever have any real facts or supporting evidence to show the world, rather than armchair opinions, they'll be taken seriously.

ID is pseudo-science. There are no facts to support it, and no ongoing research programs to find any of the evidence that would support it. And that's why they're not taken seriously by the scientific community.
-- Stephen Miller
Austin, Texas

In regards to Neumayr's good article, I'd like to point out three issues in addition to those in the article:

The "victory" at Dayton is a Hollywood myth. Browbeating a witness (i.e., Bryan) who was not cross-examined was hardly a victory. Since when does questioning a witness but not allowing the other side to ask questions a hallmark of open-mindedness? By this logic the theory of relativity could be "disproved" by badgering a high school physics student on a witness stand. A contrast of the mean spirited propaganda play and movie Inherit the Wind with the actual trial would make for a good American Spectator article some day. However if Darwin and religion were to have fought to the death in a fair debate, some would be surprised to hear that such a debate actually took place. In 1931, in New York City, Clarence Darrow debated G.K. Chesterton on the subject and Darrow was slammed down face first into the mat in the first round. Out of three thousand votes cast by the attendees of the debate, Chesterton walked away with 2/3rds of the votes.

When people speak of Darwin's theories, note that some his theories are no longer subscribed to by evolutionists. The concept of survival of the fittest is retained, but the theories of how adaptations are supposed to take place are now different than what Darwin suggested and seem to be in a state of constant flux. Instead of new discoveries simplifying the theory and bringing it to closure, they instead require addendums and fundamental rewrites. Some would call that a deteriorating paradigm.

The last issue is who cares? I hold a graduate degree in engineering, which is merely applied science, and I am responsible for multi-million dollar projects. I've never found a lack of faith in Darwin to be a detriment to my career. There is great irony that state laws like Butler Act, which precipitated the Scopes trial by prohibiting the teaching that Man evolved from lower forms, were not repealed until after, or only just before, the Apollo Program. Now, in these ACLU-enforced enlightened times, it is a miracle just to get a few astronauts into orbit at all. High school students may not know kinematics or stoichiometry, but if they believe themselves to be the result of an accident that is all that they need to know, according to the Darwinists. I have never observed the theory of evolution to have any practical significance in practical science. Indeed, if scientists would leave metaphysics to the philosophers and concentrate on science maybe they could do great things with science, rather than egotistically trying to make science great.
-- D. Lewis

George Neumayr is to be commended for writing on and Intelligent Design. For when you get right down to it, the false science that is neo-Darwinist (or as Dr. William Dembski and Philip Johnson call it, methodological naturalism) is the foundation of the progressive agenda that has polluted our institutions of culture, law, science, and yes sadly, even religion.

And like so much from the Left, Evolution itself is based on lies and distortions.
-- Peter Skurkiss
Stow, Ohio

This isn't really a letter to the editor. I just wanted to thank Mr. Neumayr for his article on the new-Darwinist inquisition. It was brave and very much needed.
-- Jay Trott
Sherman, Connecticut

SHOULD'A BEEN A COWBOY
Re: Lawrence Henry's Gone Country:

Waylon Jennings's "Good Hearted Woman" was the song my wife and I danced to at our daughter's wedding. Plenty of Mozart, the complete absence by contract of all Anheuser Busch products, an Irish street singer classmate of mine -- a good day for all.
-- Kevin Smith
Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Kudos to Mr. Henry for his article. I'm, like a lot of men, "not as good as I once was," but, thanks to Toby Keith, I can brag that "I'm as good, once, as I ever was!" That's the essence of country.
-- unsigned

"Whiskey for My Men, Beer for My Horses" is really the neo-con national anthem, sung every day in the Washington building where the AEI and the Weekly Standard abide.
-- Noemie Emery

"Letters From Home" gets me every time too -- especially these lines: "Like we ain't scared and our boots ain't muddy," and "pick up my gun and get back to work." I think about my buddies in Iraq and shoot them emails to see how they're doing.

You're right -- nothing captures America like country music.
-- Jonathan "Tex" Smith
Rocket Center, West Virginia

Good article, but the lyrics from John Michael Montgomery's "Letters from Home" are wrong. The soldier cries in the last chorus of the song after his dad tells him he's proud of him, not after his fiancee writes. The mistake in your article changes the ambiance of the song. The soldiers laugh after the fiancee writes, because he won't "share the good parts".
-- Janine Martin
Columbia, Missouri

Wow! What a great article.
-- unsigned

I used to listen to country music in the '60s and early '70s, Floyd Cramer, Charlie Pride, Hank Williams, Tex Ritter, etc. I stopped for a while but recently have heard a few that really impressed me and you've mentioned a couple in your article. I also like "Don't Ask Me How I Know" by Bobby Pinson.

I decided a few weeks ago to try my hand in honor of the men and women serving overseas. It's titled "My Dreams Keep Me Awake" (copyright 2005):

I often wonder how my life would be had 911 been just another day.
Where would I be with my family today instead of in a land of wind and sand.
I remember the first time we met, The first time we made love
On our wedding night.
Memories of our first child and The smallest things of life back home.
My dreams keep me awake Dreaming of you, Billy and Sue
My dreams keep me awake Wondering how your day has been
My arms longing for you.
Daddy why do you have to go?
Son, it's my duty.
I volunteered the call has come to protect you, Mom and sis.
When I grow up I want to be like you dad.
And I can't wait for you to get home So I can start learning.
My dreams keep me awake
Wishing we were on the lake, cheering your first homerun,
Or just sitting on the porch Watching you grow up.
Daddy, I lost my first tooth, the letter reads in a child's red crayon.
I wish you were here.
The tooth fairy didn't Leave as much money
As she does when you're at home.
My dreams keep me awake, staring at the ceiling
Wishing I were reading you A bedtime story.
Darling, Sue has been up all night with a fever
I hardly slept at all.
Patriotic speeches are cold comfort in this lonely bed.
I guess that's why they call it sacrifice.
My dreams keep me awake, so I'll hold you in my prayers
'til the day I hold you in my arms.
The firing stilled, The wounded healed
wishing I was home Instead of at war.
But liberty has a price And we're here to pay.
My dreams keep me alive
Dreams of you, peace on earth good will to men
To love my enemy, Set the captive free
To pray for peace and harmony
This is what the God I worship, demands of me
My dreams keep me alive
Serving with the finest Men and women I have ever known
Protecting those at home, The for and against
the left and the right.
We will stay and we will finish the fight
My dreams keep me alive
Someday, someday We'll be home.
Free.

-- Chuck Latham

Like the author of this article, I live in the liberal northeast -- Connecticut to be exact. I went country about a year ago, and I love it! Country music is the soul of America. It is heartache, pain, love, redemption, honor, glory, tears, sex...all in 3 minutes. Country is the vanguard of the new America, a rising, strong and proud America. If you want to hear the difference between red and blue, listen to country -- it is red all over, and those who don't listen, or won't listen -- well they just don't get it. Much as they don't "get" Bush.
-- unsigned

When I have my country radio on, I hope that the troops have it on too so they can get the encouragement they will find there that they won't find in the MSM, from Hollywood, or on rock stations.
-- Sue Ellen Hirtle
Eagle, Idaho

I have always been a fan of country and I think the first album I owned was "The Life and Times of Ferlin Husky." Anyway, I have thought for some time that country music is America's answer to opera. Heartache, lost loves, triumph, and glory all in one genre.
-- Don M.

Lawrence Henry's claim that "twinkletoes marketing boys" have reduced come country music to a formula is belied by no less an illustrious personage than David Allan Coe, a.k.a. The Mysterious Rhinestone Cowboy, who, with his good friend, the late Steve Goodman, distilled the essence of country music over two decades ago in "You Never Even Call Me By My Name." I quote:

Well, a friend of mine named Steve Goodman wrote that song, and he told me it was the perfect country & western song. I wrote him back a letter and I told him it was not the perfect country & western song because he hadn't said anything at all about mama, or trains, or trucks, or prison, or getting drunk. Well he sat down and wrote another verse to the song and he sent it to me, and after reading it, I realized that my friend had written the perfect country & western song and I felt obliged to include it on this album. The last verse goes like this here:

Well, I was drunk the day my mom got out of prison
and I went to pick her up in the rain,
but before I could get to the station in my pickup truck
she got runned over by a damned old train.

Chorus:
And I'll hang around as long as you will let me
And I never minded standing' in the rain
But you don't have to call me darlin', darlin'
You never even called me by my name.


-- Peter J. Lyden, III
Eatontown, New Jersey

Thank you, Lawrence Henry, for all you do.
-- Ross Finley
San Angelo, Texas

THE POOR BRAZILIAN
Re: Clinton W. Taylor's Prometheus, Deterred:

The de Menezes case may not be so cut and dried as we may think. It appears that the individual was a visa overstay. His student visa was expired. And if British labor law is similar to the U.S. then the why was he working as an electrician? And was his visa overstay the reason that he reacted the way he did, with deadly consequences?

I am afraid we will never know.
-- John McGinnis
Arlington, Texas

In his article, "Prometheus, Deterred" Clinton Taylor refers to Mark Steyn's "discomfort" with London's shoot-to-kill policy. The key comment I picked up on in Mr. Steyn's London Telegraph article was this:

"We're told we shouldn't second-guess split-second decisions that have to be made under great stress by those on the scene, which would be a more persuasive argument if the British constabulary didn't spend so much time doing exactly that to homeowners who make the mistake of defending themselves against violent criminals."

According to the Daily Mail earlier this year (02/02/2005), Police Commissioner Ian Blair was initially sympathetic when the Conservative Party proposed a new law which would protect British
householders from prosecution for using force against intruders, unless such force was "grossly disproportionate". The paper quoted Mr. Blair as saying that: "I like the phrase because it really does make the intruder feel at risk".

Later, however, after meeting with the Home Secretary, Mr. Blair's view was revised to be in line with the Government's guidelines on the current position of the law. These guidelines state that a prosecution will be triggered instead by "excessive and gratuitous force."

Mr. Steyn's point about the killing of Mr. de Menezes, as I take it, is that it would seem to have been excessive and gratuitous given that, amongst other things, "if summary extrajudicial execution was so urgent, why did the surveillance team let him take a
bus ride before eventually cornering him in the Tube?".
-- Kevin O'Neill

You say, "Still, the logic is sound, and the rule is necessary, even though the notion of a shoot-to-kill policy is abhorrent to Anglo-American notions of due process."

Well let me tell you it is not abhorrent to this Anglo-American, we need to take lots less prisoners to have in Cuba. Leave them where they are found with their gun or bomb in their hand...DEAD.
-- Elaine Kyle
Cut & Shoot, Texas

Mr. Taylor illustrates what is wrong with liberal professors at institutions of higher learning. He conveniently forgets that the Brazilian man shot and killed by London police was coming out of a house under surveillance, had on a coat in summer time on a warm day and was told repeatedly to stop. Not only did he not stop, my understanding is that this man ran toward the subway system. Mr. Taylor needs to get right with all the facts and pray the police use their weapons in an appropriate manner if a suicide bomber ever comes near Mr. Taylor.
-- William Coulter
Escondido, California

All military and police policies regarding shooting at a person are "shoot to kill." Only when you want to kill the targeted individual are you authorized to shoot. No organization condones trying to shoot only to wound.

The correct phrase for the British policy is "kill upon suspicion."
-- Hugh A. L. Dempsey

Under the circumstances, anyone behaving as Mr. de Menezes behaved would cause me to conclude that he was up to no good. In the context of "real bombings happening," my response would have been the same as was that of the London Police.
-- Bill Toutz
Appleton, Wisconsin

The Brazilian's failure to stop resulted in his death...nothing else.
-- Bob Bissett

TOASTMASTER
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s No Secret Handshakes:

When RET, Jr., isn't trying too hard, he has a delicately elegant touch to his prose, which makes the thought therein so crystal clear and powerful. I have said nice things about your writing before, but your piece on the Federalist Society was instructive to those of us in the business of journalism who do not hang with lawyers. It was also funny. I hope you live a long time, sir.
-- Joe Taylor

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